Golden Gate University Law Review


Heather Wolnick


In Quon v. Arch Wireless Operating Co., a panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit held that a public employer violated the Fourth Amendment by searching the contents of text messages sent and received on a public employee's work-issued pager. In so holding, the Ninth Circuit found that the public employee had a reasonable expectation of privacy in the contents of the text messages, despite a formal Internet and computer policy stating otherwise. Relying on the two-part O'Connor test for public-employer searches, the court found that the search was more intrusive than necessary to determine whether the messages were work-related or personal. The Ninth Circuit also held that a wireless text-messaging provider violated the Stored Communications Act ("SCA") when it released the contents of archived text messages without the consent of the addressee or recipient.